MURRAY Goulburn Co-operative yesterday axed 72 jobs, including eight at its Kiewa dairy at Tangambalanga and 38 at Cobram.
It announced the cuts citing its “ongoing commitment to improving efficiency, productivity and cost competitiveness”.
The other cuts are 15 at Leongatha; four at Rochester; three at Koroit and four at Edith Creek in Tasmania.
A dismayed Victorian branch secretary of the National Union of Workers, Tim Kennedy, said the cuts come when Murray Goulburn is employing more people in Sydney and Melbourne, and after sealing its lucrative deal to supply milk to Coles supermarkets.
Axed staff are expected to leave in late September to early October.
The cuts follow a round of redundancies in June last year, when 16 jobs went at Kiewa and more than 30 at Cobram.
Murray Goulburn said the affected staff have been informed.
They had been advised that where possible, the co-operative has sought to minimise the effect on its people by looking first to natural attrition, contract and casual positions and then voluntary redundancies.
Murray Goulburn’s 10-year contract with Coles to supply its home-brand milk was hailed as a win for the company in the midst of the so-called “milk wars”.
General manager of operations Keith Mentiplay said the business recognised the loss of jobs would be very difficult for those effected.
“We are doing everything we can to support affected staff at this time,” he said.
“While these decisions are challenging, they are necessary to ensure MG remains competitive.
“It is in the best interests of our supplier-shareholders, employees, communities, customers and consumers that MG remains a strong business, able to compete globally and deliver higher farmgate prices.”
Tangambalanga local and Indigo Shire councillor Peter Croucher said the news was a surprise.
“It was a bit of a shock, we don’t like to see any families lose their jobs,” he said.
“We thought things were going along nicely, with the deal with Coles, so it is disappointing.”
Mr Mentiplay said all affected staff would receive full entitlements.